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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  October 16, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, iraq's stability at stake-- tensions rise as iraqi troops seize the oil-rich city of kirkuk from the kurds after a controversial vote for independence. then, we go to napa valley where californians return to what's left of their livelihoods as the deadliest wildfire in the state's history continues to burn. and, our 'america addicted' series continues in new mexico, fighting a pipeline of drugs ravaging the community on the mexican border. >> for us it's a game of cat and mouse. we're always looking for the cover that the criminal organizations are using.
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once we find that, we focus on that until the traffickers move to something else. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> woodruff: we begin our coverage tonight at the white house. at two public appearances today, president trump addressed a flurry of news stories and controversies. joining me now to walk us through the president's remarks is our own john yang. john, thank you. so we know the president invited the senate majority leader mention mitch to the white house today to have lunch. there was a lot of attention on that. we're going to talk about that later in the program, but i think what the big news coming out of the president's comments today was when he spoke about this opioid control story that broke over the weekend, "the washington post" and cbs news. >> the stories were about the president's nominee to be head of the office of national dug control policy, the drug czar, that's pennsylvania representative tom moreno. the stories say he pushed legislation in congress that made it harder for the d.e.a., the drug enforcement administration, to police
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opioids and, today, mr. trump said he wants to talk to morino about that. >> i did see the report, we're going to look into the report. we're going to take it very seriously because we're going to have a major announcement probably next week on the drug crisis and the opioid mess or problem and i want to get that absolutely right. we're going to be looking into tom. >> earlier today senator joe manchian of west virginia, state hit hard by the opioid crisis, says he wants the no, ma'am nays withdrawn. >> woodruff: we'll learn more about that later in the program with william brangham. he spoke about healthcare, the failure of republicans to repeal and replace obamacare. >> this came during the cabinet meeting earlier in the day. he made it sound like the breakthrough was imminent on the short-term fix to bolster the affordable care act and then on a long-term bill to destroy the
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affordable care act and replace it. >> people have a short-telterm x and then a long-term fix and that will take place probably in march or april, we will a solid vote. it will be probably 100% republican, no democrats, but most people know that's going to be a very good form of health insurance. >> our colleague reports from comip talking about a bipartisan short-term fix, negotiations or talks between lamar alexander and patty myrrh are are showing progress. the longer term fix, the suggestion is, according to lisa desjardins, that the president may be pushing an idea that is not fully baked on capitol hill. >> woodruff: so separately, john, the president was asked about those well publicized allegations out there for the last week against movie mogul harvey weinstein's sexual assault allegations and then the question turned to the president's own situation, a
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problem that emerged during the campaign last year. >> specifically he was asked about a subpoena served on his campaign committee asking for documents about women who accused president trump during the campaign of sexual misconduct and, once again, he denied everything. >> all i can say is it's totally fake news. it's just fake. it's fake. it's madeup stuff and it's disgraceful what happens, but that happens in h the world of politics. >> mr. trump's lawyers are trying to have the suit dismissed. they argued a sitting president cannot face a civil suit. >> woodruff: finally, john, the president was asked why he has not spoken out publicly yet about u.s. special operation soldiers who were killed in nijer in the last few days by islamist extremist forces. >> he took the deabout four fallen warriors overseas and
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made it a comparison about how he reacts and other presidents reacts, particularly his immediate predecessor president obama. >> when you look at president obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls, a lot of them tinted make calls. i like to call when it's appropriate, when i think i'm able to do it. >> -- never make call to families of fallen soldiers -- >> i was told he didn't often. a lot of presidents don't. they write letters. i do a combination of both. sometimes it's a very difficult thick to do, but i do a combination of both. president obama, i think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn't, i don't know. that's what i was told. >> former aides to president obama are pushing back very hard saying he made phone calls and wrote and i can say both president obama and president
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george w. bush met personally with families of the fallen. >> woodruff: john yang, thank you very much. in the day's other news, more than 300 people are now confirmed dead, after saturday's massive truck bombing in somalia, one of the world's worst attacks in years. nearly 400 more were wounded. the government blamed the al-qaeda-linked al-shabbab group. rescue crews today searched for survivors at the scene of the bombing, a crowded street in the capital mogadishu. with dozens still missing, officials expect the death toll to rise. >> ( translated ): more bodies are gradually being found and removed from the rubble. there are other people who are under the rubble. we have heard them as they scream for help. my biggest worry is that even the wounded are succumbing to their injuries. >> woodruff: the attack happened two days after somalia's defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons. there's been yet another shift to the right in european politics.
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31-year-old conservative sebastian kurz, austria's foreign minister, is set to become that country's next leader. but he's short of a majority in parliament and will likely form a coalition with the far-right "freedom party." it was founded by ex-nazis, in the 1950's. kurz has called for the european union to focus more on internal trade and securing borders. he celebrated in vienna. >> ( translated ): i have a big request for you. use today to celebrate. you all have earned it through hard work and dedication. at the same time i need to tell you that tomorrow the work starts. we did not just run to win the elections, we did so to bring austria back to the top. we ran in this election to achieve real change. >> woodruff: a final result in yesterday's election is likely to come thursday. wildfires that broke out over the weekend in portugal have killed at least 35 people, including a one-month-old infant. today, more than 5,300
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firefighters with some 1,600 vehicles were battling the fires, some of which officials say were started by arsonists. wildfires have also left at least four people dead in neighboring spain. army sergeant bowe bergdahl pleaded guilty today, to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. he was captured by the taliban in 2009, after leaving his post in afghanistan. it prompted an intense search and a prisoner swap. bergdahl appeared before a military judge in fort bragg, north carolina, today. the 31-year-old could be sentenced to life in prison. he said his actions were "very inexcusable," adding he "didn't think there'd be any reason to pull off a crucial mission to look for one guy." >> woodruff: truck driver in smuggling run pleaded guilty in court. cant police found 39 immigrants, 10 died, packed into a
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sweltering semitrailer last year and died. the defendant faces up to life in prison. a new jersey man has been convicted of planting two pressure-cooker bombs on new york city streets last year. ahmad khan rahimi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for charges including using a weapon of mass destruction. one of the bombs exploded in manhattan's chelsea neighborhood, wounding 30 people. the second didn't detonate. officials said rahimi was inspired by isis and al-qaeda. >> ahmad khan rahimi learned a lesson which we keep reminding people of. this is the wrong place to try and carry out an act of terrorism. witnesses will come forward, evidence will be developed, arrests will be made, prosecutions will be brought forth. and they will be successful. >> woodruff: prosecutors said rahimi also planted a pipe bomb in seaside heights, new jersey,
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but no one was injured. colin kaepernick has filed a grievance against the national football league. the former san francisco 49ers quarterback says he remains un- signed due to collusion by team owners over his national anthem protests. kaepernick sparked a debate when he kneeled during the anthem last year, protesting police mistreatment of african americans. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 85 points to close at 22,957. the nasdaq rose 18 points. and the s&p 500 added four. and, it was a milestone day in the world of astronomy. for the first time, researchers say they've detected gravitational waves with a flash of light from the same cosmic event. the dual observation supports albert einstein's general theory of relativity. the ripples in space, and the light burst, were caused by the collision of two neutron stars. they were first detected in
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august. still to come on the newshour: american allies in iraq battle over a key city. sifting through the rubble of what was once thriving california businesses. politics monday-- senate majority leader mitch mcconnel joins president trump at the white house, and much more. >> woodruff: longstanding rivalries were re-ignited in iraq today between vital american allies. iraqi military forces and militia moved to push kurdish forces out of the disputed city of kirkuk, in the country's north. lisa desjardins begins our coverage. >> ( translated ): the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, dr. haider al-abadi gave orders to protect the people of kirkuk and to impose security in the city in cooperation with the >> desjardins: after months of simmering tensions, iraqi federal troops moved to retake the disputed city of kirkuk from
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kurdish forces. the effort launched before dawn. by midday, iraqi soldierss, along with state-backed militias, quickly took control of several massive oil fields north of the city. iraqis also captured kirkuk military airport and various government buildings. they lowered what had been a symbolic kurdish flag at the governor's compound. journalist rebecca collard in erbil was in kirkuk this morning: >> you could hear some clashes some gunfire in the distance but for the most part the city seemed more or less abandoned. now the iraqi army, by the end of today, was essentially in control of the whole city and the outskirts of kirkuk. >> desjardins: the spokesman for an iraqi shiite militia said they achieved all their goals with little resistance. >> ( translated ): as the troops approached the area of tikrit and the north oil company, they were confronted by some rebels who tried to hinder the progress of the advancing units. our troops returned fire and
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silenced its source. >> desjardins: this comes three weeks after the kurds held a non-binding independence referendum, that included the disputed province of kirkuk. more than 90% of the kurdish region's residents voted to split from iraq. the iraqi federal government, turkey, iran and the u.s. all rejected the independence drive. the multi-ethnic region of kirkuk lies just outside of the autonomous kurdish region in iraq's north. called the country's oil capital, kirkuk produces around 500,000 barrels a day. in 2014, amid the isis onslaught across northern iraq, the kurds took control of kirkuk as the iraqi military fled the city. in the three years since, the kurds sought to cement their hold, despite tensions with the central government. today, kurdish officials accused iraq of carrying out a "major, multi-prong attack." >> ( translated ): i don't know what is happening exactly
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because we have been in the fight since four in the morning we have suffered casualties, including martyrs, and now we have withdrawn to this position. some of the other kurdish forces have pulled out, they didn't fire a single shot. >> desjardins: while kurdish forces withdrew from posts south of the city, some residents vowed to die fighting. thousands of others fled north. >> for the last few years the iraqi forces, the primarily shia militia, hashabi and kurdish forces have been focused on fighting isis. now that fight is coming to an end, and what the fear is that now internal division in iraq are going to become more apparent and possibly more violent. >> desjardins: these clashes pit one substantially american- armed military force against another. both the kurdish forces and iraqi government troops are part of the coalition fighting isis. the u.s. sought to downplay the fighting, labeling the exchange of gunfire a "misunderstanding." and in the rose garden, president trump tried to stay neutral. >> we don't like the fact that
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they're clashing. we're not taking sides. but we don't like the fact that they're clashing. >> desjardins: for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> woodruff: for more, i'm joined now by emma sky. she served as an advisor to general david patraeus while he was commander of u.s. forces in iraq from 2007 to 2010; and, by feisal istrabadi. he's a former iraqi ambassador to the united nations and helped write iraq's interim constitution. welcome to both of you. let me start with you, emma sky. this has happened so quickly. what exactly has the iraqi government done? >> the iraqi government has deployed its forces back up north into kirkuk, and since 2003 the kurds have made it clear they want to include kirkuk within their territory in order to proceed with gaining independence which has always been their goal. but kirkuk is important to iraq
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itself, and no iraqi prime minister can afford to lose kirkuk, so you can see the reaction that is taking place following the referendum on independence which happened september 25th and also included the disputed territories in the city of kirkuk. >> woodruff: feisal istrabadi, what can you add to why the iraqi government is so set on taking over the city? >> well, a couple of reasons. first, as emma just said, it is a part of the disputed territories which are legally and constitutionally under the jurisdiction of the federal government in baghdad. the krg expanded into these disputed territories at the time whewhen icele was expanding its
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territory and took steps when they were expanded into the region, including holding the referendum in these disputed territories. now, as long as iraq -- as long as we're talking about a single country, it matters a little less who controls kirkuk, but once the referendum was held, this gave rise to the second reason for baghdad choosing to act now. as emma said, kirkuk is an important oil-producing zone in iraq and it is vital for the economic viability of an independent kurdish state and an important part of the economic viability of the iraqi state. so there was never going to be a scenario in which both would allow a unilateral exercise of control by kurds to occur over kirkuk as long as independence is on the table. >> woodruff: emma sky, we heard president trump say today
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the u.s. is not taking sides in this. is that accurate that the u.s. isn't taking sides? what is the u.s. role here? >> well, the u.s. has stipulated over and over again that its policy is to support a united iraq. so you can see the u.s. has given support to iraqi security forces but also to the kurdish peshmerga to fight against i.s.i.s. the u.s. policy for the last few years has really been focused on i.s.i.s. and not on the day after i.s.i.s. we're witnesses different groups moving to the day after which is the power struggle for control of different territories in iraq. ba zanny believed that in the fight against i.s.i.s. he became stronger because he got weapons directly from the international community and as feisal said, able to extend his control over
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disputed territories. he's also facing domestic problems within kurdistan, there are tension tweens the different kurdish groups and some believe he's overstayed his term as president. >> woodruff: which reminds us how complicated this is feisal istrabadi. what does the iraqi government want here? they're not getting rid to have kurds. what is it they want? >> the kurds are a vital part of iraq, a vital part of the political process and have been represented in baghdad. the president of iraq is a kurd and has been since 2005. i think what needs to occur and i hope what this government of iraq wants is a negotiate settlement in which no party dictates terms to the other. but a negotiated settlement. there are legitimate agreements with respect to bad and vice versaa. i think we need a mediator perhaps or somebody to convenience a round table.
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the united states is who i'm thinking of, of course, to address the issues. most of the issues are from the erbil side, economic issues of payments and from baghdad's side of transparency, of how much oiler biloil erbil is producingd exporting which they have never catted to baghdad. if these issues areresolved, i hope the others can be delayed for another day but, at the end of the day, neither the original nor federal government in baghdad can tolerate dictation of terms to the other side. my hope is a negotiated settlement obtains. >> woodruff: emma sky, where do you see this going from here? do you see the peace different sides have worked to hard to create in iraq unraveling as a result of this? >> i think there is an opportunity for a deal, and i think the sort of deal that
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could be negotiated is one that looks at a special status for the city of kirkuk and negotiated terms for kurdistan's sprags whether toward confederation or independence, but there knees to be negotiation, there needs to be a look at where should the border between iraqi kurdistan and the rest of iraq actually be, and that requires mediation district by district through those territories. >> woodruff: well, we know there are other players who are playing an important role here in iran and turkey, and this is all very much playing out as we watch it happen in iraq. emma sky, feisal istrabadi, thank you very much. >> thank you.
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>> woodruff: firefighters say they are making some progress battling the wildfires in northern california that began one week ago. in all, the blazes have consumed more than 220,000 acres; an area larger than new york city. more than 5,700 structures have been destroyed. and at least 41 people have been killed, making it the deadliest wildfire in the state's history. the wine industry, and the tourism business connected with it, are trying to take stock. more than $5o billion in california's economy comes from the wine business. and nearly 24 million people visit the region for that reason every year. special correspondent joanne jennings reports from napa county. >> reporter: the mayacamas mountain range creates a natural barrier between sonoma and napa counties. and it is here where the massive nuns fire is posing a tough challenge for some 11,000 firefighters who are taming the blaze with aircraft and units on
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the ground. >> we're going around and making sure none of these fires are still smoldering and smoking. we're not going to get another big fire out of them. >> reporter: even as firefighters are battling shifting winds, owners and workers in wine country are trying to determine just how much damage has been done. the highlands gated community was among the first to be consumed by flames when the atlas fire raced through this canyon, leaving several mansions in rubble. down the hill, at the silverado resort, charred remnants of the safeway p.g.a. tour remain. the major golf event had just wrapped up last sunday afternoon, a few hours before flames engulfed tents and grandstands, forcing spectators and athletes to evacuate. >> do you see how it stopped right at the retaining wall here? >> reporter: silverado resident steve messina stayed behind and shot video of fire crews containing the flames which consumed some condos. within minutes flames raced three miles down silverado
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trail, home to several storied hillside vineyards most wineries in the region have been spared the worst. but hundreds suffered some damage. and at least eight vineyards have been significantly damaged or destroyed. pierre birebent, who has been making wines for the family owned signorello estate for 20 years, rushed to his winery as quickly as he could. >> i jumped right in my truck, came down and when i was driving down i saw the hill all in flames. >> reporter: two vineyard workers joined him to help save the estate's tasting room. >> but the smoke was getting very thick and the wind was very strong and after an hour, we couldn't breathe anymore. at the moment i was so upset. it was rage, you know to see that i couldn't do anything. but it was like fighting a giant, you know. >> reporter: the tasting room, which also housed the winery's office and a dining room, burned to the ground. fortunately, he said, the fire
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stopped short of reaching the vineyard, the crush pad, or any of the barrels of wine stored on site. 95% of this year's grapes were already picked. to be on the safe side, birebent is taking these samples to a lab to make sure the juice is not too acidic for wine making. if the crop is okay, a staff of 25 employees will have jobs to return to. as the fires begin to recede and the smoke clears, people here are beginning to wonder when the tourists, who fuel much of the economy, will return. >> and i do wine tours and transportation for people. and my business started to do really, really well. i was on track to have the best month ever. >> reporter: andrew just bought this new s.u.v. which has been idle in his driveway collecting ash. jeni is a personal trainer and has family who lost their homes in the fires. she's just not sure how they're
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going to make ends meet. >> i think we're just overwhelmed and uncertainty is kind of scary. >> we will hopefully get by for awhile but we might have to make some hard decisions shortly >> reporter: while fires burn nearby, some vineyards are getting ready to open to tourists. at the raymond vineyard, workers are crushing grapes at a feverish pitch. the tasting room is open for the first time since the fires started. jeremy and erika moore arrived from tennessee yesterday. they considered canceling their trip, but decided the best way they could help people here is to give them their business. >> it's weird because on the one hand, a few hundred yards from here you can see them shuttling up with the helicopters fighting fires, but then here it's beautiful. they are doing some great tastings, and they are working outside on the crops. it's a weird combination of tragedy, but then at the same
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time business must go on, too. >> reporter: proprietor jean- charles boisset owns several wineries in california, france and canada, but like many other people here, he and his family had to evacuate their home when the flames came dangerously close. still, he is bullish about the future of the wine industry in this region. >> napa has been one of the most amazing agricultural places in california for a long time, so it will survive those fires. what i love, as a frenchman here in california, is that amazing american positive attitude. we will recover. we'll walk again, run again, and we will welcome all our guests and give them the dreams of fine wine. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm joanne jennings in napa, california. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: how one state is making slow,
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but steady progress against opioid addiction. but first, back to the president's public appearances today, the state of his agenda, and his working relationship with congressional republicans. for more on that, we turn to amy walter, of the "cook political report," and tamara keith of npr. "politics monday." thank you both for being here. let's start. we heard a little of this earlier but let's bore in on the president's earlier criticism of mention mention, senate majority leader. the president had mcconnell over to the white house as we saw earlier. over the weekend the president's former chief strategist steve bannon spoke at the conservative value voters summit, combative about mainstream republican senators whom he is vowing to unseat. let's listen. >> all you folks that are so concerned that you're going to get primaried and defeated, you know, there's time for mayor
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pulpa. you can come to a stick and condemn senator corker and you can come to a stick, a microphone and say i'm not going to vote for mitch mcconnell for majority leader. >> my goal as the leader of the republican party and the senate is to keep us in the majority. the way you do that is not complicate it. you have to nominate people who can actually win because winners make policy and losers go home. >> woodruff: and, so, amy, i don't know whether it's complicated or not, but mitch mcconnell is saying the party is going to win the way it is and steve bannon is saying, no, we've got to move to the populist right. >> right, mitch mcconnell is correct, his job is to protect the people in his party and caucus. steve bannon's job is to protect the president and what steve bannon sees as overreliance on this establishment thinking. his job is to blow things up, steve bannon's is. mitch mcconnell's is to keep things steady as they go.
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this is in some the relationship between the republican party and donald trump which is a president who kim in vowing to shake up the establishment, to do things very differently, and the personnel who's committed to doing this within their own party is steve bannon and it's mitch mcconnell whose job it is to try to keep these incumbents together. as we saw, mitch mcconnell and his team have spent a whole lot of money trying to protect one of those, luther strange in alabama, didn't work out so well. >> didn't work out. steve bannon is trying to help some other candidates. >> he is. he says he wants to field candidates for basically every senate race. he wants to go after people who are very conservative, who have never voted against president trump on anything, but who are part of a leadership and support mitch mcconnell. the thing about today that was fascinating to me is president trump in his cabinet meeting was asked about bannon and are sympathetic to ban's
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position that he felt like there were senators -- you know, some are good people, he said, but some of them need to. go and then he goes out, has this impromptu press conference in the rose garden with mitch mcconnell and basically was, like, yeah, with mitch mcconnell, we're on the same team. mitch mcconnell is steve bannon's public enemy number one. >> woodruff: we set this up perfectly because we are going to show what the president had to say at the cabinet meeting and later with senator mcconnell. here it is. >> i can understand where steve bannon is coming from and, to be honesty you, i can understand where a lot of people are coming from because i'm not happy about it and a lot of people aren't happy about it. steve is doing what steve thinks is the right thing. some of the people i'm going to be looking at, we'll see if we talk him out of that, because frankly they're great people. what mitch will tell you is maybe with the exception of a few, and that is a very small few, i have a fantastic relationship with the people in the senate and the people in
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congress. just so you understand, the republican party is very, very unified. >> woodruff: so, amy, as sam said which side is the president on here? >> you don't hold a press conference in the rose garden to say you are really if you know fide with the person standing next to you if you are unified because we would know if you're unified because you don't need to stand in front of a bunch of cameras to tell people why you're niewn fide. it's clear why they did this a because of the story over the weekend and a attacks on mitch mcconnell. the president's agenda is not exactly lining up with where the republican agenda is. what mitch mcconnell wants to do, number one, save the senate. number two, the way they think they're going to save the senate is by passing tax cuts, tax reform, whatever you want the call this, that's what they want to focus on. the president moan while is throwing a bunch of other things on their pleat which could deter them from daca, iran, obamacare and payments to the insurance company.
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>> woodruff: and, tam, the president does keep bringing up healthcare. he brought it up again today. he said the short term, may get something, it left us allbounderring what exactly is going on with regard to healthcare? >> and that is not entirely clear, kind of depends on the minute. president trump says, yeah, maybe get get the short deal. as you reported earlier, senator murray and al-around are work on some sort of bipartisan maybe fix, but then you have the president's budget director in an interview with politico on friday, this is mick mulvaney, making it very clear that the president isn't going to accept some sort of small bipartisan deal. he wants more. he wants to extract more. you know, when the president has talked about, well, maybe we can do something with democrats, he is typically still wanted to repeal obamacare, and that's not something that democrats are interested in talking about. >> and this is the real danger for republicans which is the president is very intent on showing that he's followed through on his promises and
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protecting the trump brand. he's not as interested in protecting the republican brand. he's not on the ballot in 2018, his party is. mitch mcconnell is obviously much more concerned about what happens to his republicans, the president much more concerne3 about what happens to the president trump brand. >> and he's talking about 2020. right. today in that press conference, he was saying, oh, i hope hillary clinton runs in 2020. the president is very focused on 2020, and driving a wedge with republicans in congress and the establishment is great for his brand for 2020, but his presidency is contingent on what happens in 2018. >> woodruff: yeah, and different messages, the signals coming out of the white house to steve bannon who talks to the president and leaves us scratching our heads. the report from "the washington post" over the weekend, disturbing about the links, the pharmaceutical industry, certain
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companies that ship drugs, amy, to retail stores. they lobbied heavily to to prevent any sort of slowdown in what they were doing because of the opioid epidemic, and fingers are reported at certain republicans and a few democrats on capitol hill. >> a lot of this started under the bill that was actually passed was passed under the obama administration, so this is not just a partisan issue. the real question is whether tom morino, the comeman who shepherded this bill through the congress, has been nominated as the drug czar for president trump, who he has pull out or at the very least a lot of sharp questioning at his hearings. >> and president trump says he's going to look into it. meanwhile the senate minority liter chuck schumer and joe manchin from west virginia are saying he should withdraw. the president didn't dismiss it,
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he said we'll have to look into tom. >> woodruff: tamera keith, amy walter, "politics monday," thank you both. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: now, we return to our series on the opioid epidemic, "america addicted." in a moment, william brangham looks at how federal law enforcement was undermined when it came to stopping shipments of the drugs. let's begin with a report from the southwest. while states nationwide have been scrambling to tackle the crisis, new mexico has been hard at work with an aggressive response for years. and yet its death rate from overdoses remains stubbornly high. hari sreenivasan begins our report in northern new mexico. >> how'd your week go this week? >> sreenivasan: this is what progress against the opioid epidemic looks like. >> i kind of messed up. guy pulled out a baggie and it was meth. i kind of messed up, and i kind
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of relapsed with meth. >> sreenivasan: it's the latest relapse for anthony ocana. his doctor, gina perez-baron at las clinicas del norte had already discovered it during a routine drug screen. >> i'm glad you told me. not happy, but glad you told me. >> sreenivasan: then the surprise-- anthony's drug of choice is heroin... >> did they have heroin? they did? no kidding. and you didn't use? alright. >> sreenivasan: in rio arriba county, a place known for heroin overdose death rates six times >> yes, i may have relapsed, but this time i didn't do heroin, right? you know? or if i did heroin, i didn't inject it, you know? those are all small recoveries. those are all small victories. >> sreenivasan: the opioid epidemic has spared few families lieutenant billy merrifield of
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the sheriff's office, bringing >> it's hard to say. it's such -- once they use it once, it takes control of them. >> brangham: some blame poverty, high unemployment, some overaggression of illegal pills in the area. others still, the normalization of illegal drug use, so widespread now that multiple generations often use together. regardless, you can see the fallout almost everywhere -- needle also scattered throughout the countryside. >> we could probably drive along this whole roadway and we'll find them. >> overdose rates five times the rest of the country, but this also meant new mexico got a big head start on nearly every evidence-based strategy rolled out elsewhere, including widespread palm reduction and needle exchange programs that are still extremely limited in many states. >> you can just throw those right in here. >> okay. as long as the lids are tight. >> a residential treatment
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center in the county facility on the banks of the rio grande e, and in the outpatient clinic where perez barron works there are trauma group therapy patients for low income medicaid patients designed to get at the low lying emotional wounds that fuel >> i was molested when i was young. and i think that's what happened. >> we don't have a single patient where trauma does not play a part in their addiction. >> what addiction is really an effort to avoid pain. >> it's take an lot out of me. i've relapsed over and over. >> brangham: after more than a decade, these interventions have started paying off says laurenreichle, health and human services director. >> we brought the death rate down by 30% since 2015 which i consider significant.
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in 2016, we've held steady, at a time when everybody else's have been increasing. >> brangham: at the state level, bigger moves. as early as 2001, new mexico became the first state to increase access to the overdose reversal drug ma locks own. >> it reverses the heroin you just injected. >> new mexico is the leader in training at risk populations on reversing an overdose. >> what i am hoping for is that even just one of you giews can reverse somebody to give that one person a chance to re-think what they're doing to their lives. what they're doing to themselves, what they're doing to their families. >> and in albuquerque public schools, there is early opioid education, like this lesson by a stance abuse prevention counselor in a seventh grade health class. >> remember, opioids come in our
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painkillers and in heroin. so look at the difference in this brain. >> despite all those efforts and the gains in hard-hit county, the number of overdose deaths statewide is still staggeringly high, 25 deaths per 100,000 residents. the national average is 16 deaths per 100,000. >> several in a day are concerning for drug deaths for overdose deaths. every day we're here at one of these tables examining some young person who shouldn't otherwise be dead, every >> sreenivasan: new mexico seems to be doing everything. they have aggressive treatment, they have harm reduction, they have early education. they even track every opiate that's being prescribed. so why is it still so bad? part of the answer is the freeway we're driving on.
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two national highways cross new mexico: i-40 east to west; i-25 north to south. they meet in albuquerque. >> we're jumping on here onto i- 40 westbound. this road is literally the pipeline of america. keeps drutionz from mexico pulsing through the state says the undersheriff. he says he's been involved in close to a though large scale drug seizures in the course of his career. hidden cargo including heroin, meth, pills, marijuana, frequently travel on from albuquerque in compartments in tractor trailers, discovered during routine stops and planned raids along this highway. illegal activity and busts are frequent here because new mexico serves as a wal-mart style distribution center in the interpretational drug trade, he says. >> once they can get the drugs across the international border, then they can start breaking the dougs dr apart and distributing them from there. >> they're looking to see if there's dope hidden -- you know,
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stuck in there and covered up by the food. he's going to be digging through the food. >> >> sreenivasan: mike gallagher, an investigative reporter for "the albuquerque journal," says the mexican cartels now operate deep within the united states, controlling every piece of the operation. >> from the point of origin, where the poppies were grown, to the lab, to the smuggling organizations to the delivery points in albuquerque and the northeast heights. >> sreenivasan: that included this auto body shop in southwest albuquerque, tied in a federal investigation to the juarez cartel. in an auto body shop in mexico, they'd open up vehicles, create secret compartments, and stash drugs inside to get it across the border. then, they'd come to an auto body shop here, in albuquerque, where those vehicles would be opened up, the drugs would be taken out, money would be put back in, and then the vehicles would go back across. but the drugs would continue on. >> oklahoma city. tulsa. st. louis. memphis. atlanta.
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charleston. into new jersey, ohio, and as far north as massachusetts. >> the mexican criminal organizations understand that some of their loads will be seized. that's the cost of doing business to >> sreenivasan: will glaspy is the special agent in charge of the el paso division, which and oversaw the el pass to division includes mexico. the cartels play a numbers game that will continue to be in their favor unless the u.s. wants to drastically reduce commerce with mexico. last year aleen 5.8 million drugs legally dove over the border at points of entry along with 75 million personal vehicles, more than 42 million >> for, for us it's a game of cat and mouse. we're always looking for the cover that the criminal organizations are using. once we find that, we focus on that until the traffickers move
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to something else. >> sreenivasan: confiscated drugs from the nearby border crossings are stored in a drug vault near glaspy's office. tens of thousands of pounds line the shelves. no matter how much is seized, it's just a small fraction of what flows in, a sign of a bigger problem. >> they've realized they've got this huge patrick market in the united states so they've ramped up production of her owen and really flooded the streets of the united states with this deadly poison. >> it just blocks the pain is what it does. numbs it. >> bacstories like sanchez's explain why the opioid epidemic has been so hard to beat back. she turned to pills and cocaine to block physical pain from a fall, she says, and the anxiety of everyday life. for long stretches of time she fights for associate, but they're always interrupted by moments like this.
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>> that's this weekend. before my daddy and everybody showed up, the pain is so bad that i can't, so, you know, i go self-medicate with drugs, you know. >> brangham: adetection continues to rage in the county despite the small band of health providers and efforts, law enforcement action and the recent drop in death rates. the doctor says treatment can work wonders for individual payments but the county is filled with poverty, unemployment, trauma, pain in search of a painkiller. >> i heard law enforcement say we're not going to arrest our way out of this problem. the same is true for medicine. we're not going to treat our way out of this problem, we want to stop it by not prescribing inappropriately and by getting other things in their life that are meaningful. >> brangham: the nature of addictions means most solutions and victories will continue to be small and incremental. there are times when sanchez
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reaches for drugs but more often when she reaches for helps. >> i have cravings and sometimes they've stopped. i'll call someone up and i'll do something else, they'll remind me of things we have been working on. >> brangham: working to cope, a work for the pbs newshour, i'm hari sreenivasan, in new mexico. >> brangham: while states like new mexico try everything they can to stem this crisis, there are allegations that major industries at the center of this problem are doing the opposite. as john yang mentioned, a recent investigation by "60 minutes" and the "washington post" alleges that the companies that distribute opioid painkillers to pharmacies and doctor's offices nationwide persuaded congress to hobble law enforcement's ability to monitor their actions. here's how a former d.e.a. official described the industry to "60 minutes" last night: >> this is an industry that's out of control.
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what they want to do, is do what they want to do, and not worry about what the law is. and if they don't follow the law in drug supply, people die. that's just it. people die. >> brangham: scott higham is an investigative reporter for the "washington post" and the co- author of the series that appeared in tandem with that "60 minutes" story. welcome to the "newshour". your report really detailed how at the height of the opioid crisis this industry, the industry of the people who distribute pharmaceuticals all over the country persuaded congress to in essence defang the d.e.a.'s ability to monitor what they can do. can you explain what happened in a nutshell? >> yeah, it's a pretty impressive feat. for many, many years, the way drug distribution works, it's a little bit complicated but not too complicated. there are manufacturers at the top of the food chain. in the middle are wholesale distributors and at the bottom are the doctors and pharmacies.
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the d.e.a. was having a rough time stoppin stopping the flow s coming from corrupt doctors and rogue pharmacies so they decided to attack the distribution levels and the wholesalers and use what they call an immediate suspension which immediately shuts down the supply of drugs when they see the distributor is shipping unusually large amounts of drugs downstream. so in order to get an immediate suspension order they had to demonstrate those drugs were causing an imminent threat to the community:stream. what this law does is changing that definition to now it's an immediate threat and much more difficult for the d.e.a. to prove the drugs coming from a drug distributor a thousand miles away from a community are posing an immediate threat to the community. they can still show a pharmacist or a doctor who's overprescribing is causing an immediate threat to the community, but going up the food chain and trying to get an
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immediate suspension order against a drug distributor or a manufacturer is now in the words of the d.e.a.'s chief administrative law judge nearly possible. >> as you report in your series, the distribution companies themselves say this is not our fault, we're not doing this, this is doctors making bad prescribing decisions. don't blame us for this. >> right, well, this all began because there were a lot of bad doctors and a lot of clinics writing prescriptions and filling massive amounts of drugs. the d.e.a. would argue the drugs that were then being supplied downstream were coming from the distributors and the manufacturers and they knew exactly how many drugs they were selling. so say you have a pharmacy in your community that gets 10,000 oxycodone a month and all of a sudden they're ordering 100,000, that's a red flag and that's supposed to be reported to the d.e.a. and that's not happening. so the d.e.a. says you're not
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following the law. they warned the distributors repeatedly they were not golg following the law, and said the distributors continued shipping the drugs, hundreds of millions of doses of drugs downstream and finally they started hitting them with suspension orders to help them stop the flow of the drugs. >> the other thing your report highlights is the revolving door in washington, sort of a textbook example where you had former d.e.a. officials who used to investigate the industry leave government service and work for the very service they used to investigate. in fact you report on an allegation that a former d.e.a. official helped write this legislation that took the weapons out of his former industry's hands. >> yes, exactly. we received documents through the freedom of information act and our sources. one of those documents shows that one of the key lawyers for the d.e.a. then went to industry, joined a law firm, started representing these drug companies and then he wrote the
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marino bill, he wrote the early versions of the marino bill, the tom marino who is now the drug czar nominee for the trump administration. >> you also detail how there seems to be an enormous amount of money going from the industry to the legislators who sponsored. this how direct a connection do you think that is? >> this has been going on in washington forever. at least $1.5 million went to the sponsors and co-sponsors of this legislation. there weren't that m maybe 22 or so. we also found the industry overall spent about $100 million lobbying congress on this bill and other measures. so there's a lot of money coming in. showing quid pro quo is always very tricky, but companies don't give money to members of congress for nothing, they usually want something in return. >> scott higham of "the washington post" and thank you and all your colleagues who worked on this impressive series.
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>> thank you very much. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ >> collette. celebrating 100 years of travel, together.
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>> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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[ bells play tune ] [ theme music plays ] -♪ i think i'm home ♪ i think i'm home ♪ how nice to look at you again ♪ ♪ along the road ♪ along the road ♪ anytime you want me ♪ you can find me living right between your eyes, yeah ♪ ♪ oh, i think i'm home ♪ oh, i think i'm home -today on "cook's country," bridget and julia make authentic citrus-braised pork tacos. adam reviews the best piping bags with bridget.

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